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Grafton crew heads south to clean up after Irma PDF Print E-mail
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Written by JOHN MORTON   
Wednesday, 20 September 2017 19:35

With fans, dehumidifiers and generators in tow, cleaning firm to set up shop in hurricane-ravaged Florida

It’s part a mission of opportunity, part a mission of mercy.
Either way, soggy and beleaguered residents of Naples, Fla., still reeling from Hurricane Irma, will no doubt appreciate the arrival of Grafton’s P&R cleaning. The company, at 1570 Wisconsin Ave., specializes in everything from carpet cleaning to smoke-damage restoration. In this case, water removal will be the main focus for the crew of five that left Friday in the company’s signature modified ambulance and fire truck. They hauled a trailer behind, loaded with 120 fans, 50 dehumidifiers, 11 generators, and cases of apples, water, Gatorade and energy bars.
Thanks to a Facebook blast on Sept. 13 that outlined the business’s plans, business owner Joe D’Acquisto said he booked 15 jobs immediately – seven of them coming from Ozaukee County snowbirds who are concerned about their part-time Florida homes.
“We’re doing the five-around – we work on the house where our appointment is and then check on the neighbors in a five-house radius in each direction,” said D’Acquisto, who offered similar aid in New Orleans following Hurricane Katrina.
Next week, another six employees in two other vehicles will relieve the others by heading down south with a Bobcat backhoe and chainsaws, concentrating on the removal of downed trees and other debris.
That will mean 11 of the 23 employees will be involved in the clean-up for what could be weeks.
“We’ll keep on going as long as we’re needed, rotating the crews,” D’Acquisto said. “And one of our employees has a friend in the Keys who can help offer places to stay. If they open the bridge to get there, we’ll probably head down there next.”
But one Facebook request touched a nerve with D’Acquisto – so much so that he hopped on a plane for Naples the night before his first wave of employees left.
“A woman said her 75-year-old brother-in-law was stranded in Naples with no power, no water, no generator, no propane. He has nothing. And she hasn’t heard from him in days,” D’Acquisto said. “She wanted to know if we could help. I told her I’ll do it. I’m there.
“I’m going straight to his address the moment I land.”
The woman is Anne Wineland of Sussex. She saw a post of a friend about how her son, P&R’s Mitchel Pals who lives in Grafton and is a graduate of Port Washington High School, is part of the group heading down.
Wineland posted her concerns to P&R about her relative’s well-being, and the next morning her phone rang.
“It was the owner (D’Acquisto). He said my situation was his No. 1 priority. All I could do was cry, say God bless you, and ask ‘How can I ever repay you?’ He said not to worry,” Wineland said. “His call was heaven sent. All that way to help complete strangers. It’s astounding to me, to pack up a business and just go like that.”
She hoped to hear some good news about her brother-in-law, whose name is Tom.
“He only had a half-tank of gas in his car. He waited too long to go. He told me he doesn’t even have a flashlight and that his screens are all blown out,” Wineland said. “And he has my sister’s old dog, who needs a shot twice a day.
“He kept in contact by cell phone, but now there’s no answer when I call. It must have ran out of power. I haven’t heard from him since Sunday (Sept. 10). I’ve been frantic.”
On Friday afternoon, she was thrilled to receive a Facebook post from D’Acquisto. It was a picture of himself and Tom, all smiles, standing on Tom’s balcony. He was fine.
Wineland shared the picture on her Facebook page and posted a comment of appreciation in writing: “Seriously people, I don’t think you truly understand .... they went straight from Wisconsin to his house to check on him, just because I asked. This man and his company are wonderful. God has blessed me by bringing them into my life.”

 
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